ROACHDALE -- Coming off an emotional and physically draining loss to Greencastle on Friday, the North Putnam girls' basketball team had to turn around and play a Saturday matinee against the Shakamak Lady Lakers. Having done so once already in the season, the Cougars were able to handle the quick turnaround, but needed a 23 point third quarter to take the lead for good in defeating the Lady Lakers 49-42.
It took some time for the Cougars to get out of the traps, while Shakamak came out firing in the first quarter, something Cougar head coach Jim Brothers had hoped to avoid.
"It's hard to come back after a night game and play in the afternoon," Brothers quipped. "We expected it to be, and it took a quarter to get our legs back under us. We played hard, but were out of sync in the first quarter. We did well after that."
Part of the problem was the interior play of Mikayla Crane, who scored nine of her game high 16 in the opening period, getting behind the Cougar defense and making easy buckets. The Cougar offense struggled, nearly accumulating as many fouls (6) as they did points (7) in the quarter.
Once the second quarter began, though, the Cougars got themselves back on track. With several players in foul trouble, the Cougars played with a mixed line up, matching the Lakers with 11 points in the quarter, but more importantly, not allowing the game to get away from them.
"We have a lot of contributors on this team, which is one of the strengths of the team. We play about nine to ten players deep in every game," Brothers said.
The bench contributions would become critical as the third quarter began. With a full strength line-up again, the Cougars came out in the start of the third with more confidence, and continued to match the Lakers point-for-point through the first four minutes of the quarter.
Then, the surge began, led by senior guard Carlye McGaughey.
McGaughey hit her second three pointer of the quarter at the four minute mark. After a couple of defensive stops, the Cougars fed her again, and she delivered, knocking down a third. Forty-five seconds later, she hit a fourth to tie the game at 34-all.
A Dakota Malayer free throw gave the Cougars a 35-34 lead, but the shots wouldn't stop falling. Malayer would hit a three of her own before McGaughey hit her fifth and final three of the quarter, completing the 23 point outburst and giving the Cougars a 41-34 lead going into the fourth.
The final frame saw both teams head to the free throw line a combined sixteen times as fouls began to mount up and altered the game when Shakamak's primary ball handler, Casey Fougerousse, fouled out of the contest with four minutes to go.
Even before, the Cougars had dropped into a deep 2-3 zone, daring the Lakers to shoot the long ball to get back into the game. The Lakers did not meet the challenge, and North Putnam rode out the final quarter to a 49-42 win.
Coach Brothers was impressed by his team in the second half.
"We keep telling our players to keep shooting, but take good shots. They were able to use good ball movement to get the ball to Carlye (McGaughey) but didn't force it. She was patient and allowed the game to come to her."
"We shot the ball too soon to start the fourth quarter. We have to learn to play with leads. They (Shakamak) went to a box and one to isolate McGaughey, so we let the clock run. We knew that Fougerousse was in foul trouble, so we isolated her on Megan Robinson, which was a good match up for us, and it paid off."
"That allowed us play deep inside on defense and cut off Crane. They hadn't hit anything from outside, nor had they really shot from there, so if we cut them off from the inside, we knew we'd do all right."
At North Putnam
Shakamak 17 11 6 8 -- 42
North Putnam 7 11 23 8 -- 49
Shakamak -- Fougerousse 1, 2-2, 5, Crane 5, 6-12, 16, Gambill 1, 2-4, 4, Gilbert 1, 1-1, 3, Martin 1, 2-2, 4, Pearson 3, 2-2, 8, Holdaway 1, 0-0, 2
3pt. FG-- Fougerousse
North Putnam -- Stephenson 0, 0-0, 0 Frye 0, 4-4, 4, Crosby 2, 0-0, 4, Pinney 1, 0-2, 2 Davis 0, 0-0, 0, Robinson 2, 4-8, 9, Malayer 3, 5-10, 12, Asbell 1, 0-1, 2, McGaughey 5, 1-2, 16, Lucas 0, 0-0, 0
3pt. FG-- McGaughey (5), Malayer, Robinson
Next game -- North Putnam will play a boys/girls double header at Speedway on Tuesday, starting at 6 p.m.